In De Musica, Augustine described beauty as “a plank amid the waves of the sea.”1 From the perspective of process theology, the experience of beauty not only offers life-saving rescue from the storms of life, but also serves as a glimpse into the very nature of God and the world.
How can beauty be a plank against such waves? How is beauty relevant in such times as these? What part does beauty play in the transformation of our exhausted and beleaguered world? And how can beauty tend to our aching souls in these times of crises on every front? These are some of the questions I address in this short theology of beauty, inspired by process theology, scripture, experience—and in loving companionship with poets, philosophers, artists, mystics, musicians, and the mother of all teachers: nature herself.
Beauty is not just harmony, which can sometimes be shallow and exclusive; Beauty is not just intensity, which can be stormy and dissonant and chaotic. Beauty, at its most divine, integrates both elements into a larger frame: that is, Beauty as intense harmony is a celebration of contrasts within a larger, harmonious whole. Beauty, then, is the very yearning of God for our evolving world–a world of creative movement, where the diverse elements strive not toward bland sameness, but rather toward rich and complex forms of well-being. Beauty’s beckoning toward intense harmonies applies to all aspects of life, from nature’s richly evolving diversity to whole civilizations.”
Farmer, Patricia Adams. Beauty and Process Theology (Topical Line Drives) (p. 5). Energion Publications. Kindle Edition.